Vintage lens alert! 110 year old lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II

by planetmitch11 Comments

Quite a while ago, we featured a 102 year old lens that was mounted to a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (two posts: stills post and video from the same lens) – and today, here's an even older one – 110 years old! This was sent in by Ignacio Sanchez who has started a group for Vintage Lenses on Vimeo. He's shared a video and a couple of stills on his blog

Zeiss Tessar, 1902 in a 5DmkII

Here's a snip from Ignacio's article (translated via Google)

Two months ago I was in “El Rastro”, the flea market here in Madrid, when I found a brass lens barrel, I looked inside and saw a little lens, a Zeiss Jena Tessar 7,5cm f/6.3. The seller asked 5 euros for it, I grab it and pay him with a smile in my face. 

When I got home, I realized that the lens barrel, that has the name Dubroni, belongs to a 1874 camera with the same name. It was a auto developing camera, an early Polaroid concept (link), but the original lens was a petzval design, not Tessar. I supposed that the owner has hacked the barrel to suit the Tessar inside.

I googled about this Tessar lens, and I only found a reference from 1902, a Tessar first dessign. Then I began to study how can I transform this two pieces to adapt them to my EOS system.The focal length 7,5cm (75mm) was perfect for FF or APS-C, my principal concern was if it could reach infinity and after a quick test I confirmed that it has enough flange to mount it in my 5DmkII, great. My initial concept was to mount it in a bellows, but there it was far away to reach infinity, then I began to wonder to mount the lens inside the barrel, and weld an eos-m42 adapter to rear side of the barrel. I calculated the distance and everything seems to fit.

I took the barrel to my friend Jose, a good metal carpenter, who could weld the adapter to the barrel. My project was at last finished, the focus hand wheel worked fine, and the image was sharp enough, with a very low contrast, I though that maybe fungus or haze was the cause, but fortunately there was not. 

via ASPECTO visuals.

110 years old lens in 5DmkII – Tessar 1º design

[tentblogger-vimeo 35879585]

Here's another vintage lens video from Ignacio: [tentblogger-vimeo 31014851]

I adapted for Canon EOS this lens from a camera called “Toledo”, I bought in “El Rastro” weeks ago. It´s a meniscus lens, one element, circa 1920 with the usual soft focus. I put in a M42 helicoidal to get proper focus.
As you can see there is no detail at all, and a lot of aberrations, but it has a look.
The footage is straight from camera. No CC.

Camera: Magic Lantern 550D
Lens: Toledo
Picture Styles: Movie, B&W

I found a few photos in Ignacio's flickr stream showing the cameras:

1902 TESSAR on 5DmkII

TOLEDO camera and lens in EOS mount from Ignacio

(cover photo credit: snap from the vimeo group title image)


  1. Wow, I love the old lens spirit. Can you share a few pointers, a la beginner’s FAQ to finding great old lenses at flea markets that will work with modern cameras?

    No really I’d like to experiment as well, but most of us don’t have a clue where to start.



  2. Hi Al, you can adapt a lot of vintage lenses in EOS. First, the lens got to be for a 35mm camera or larger, like 6×6, folding cameras, or large format cameras. Then you need to find a way to unite the lens to the eos camera, you can use bellows, perfect for large format lenses, or DIY a barrel where to put the lens inside and be able to focus.
    My advice is to get cheap lenses and start to experiment.

  3. Bravo…!!! I alvays use old lenses, and i have to say that most of the time they are better than cheaper new lenses. For example on my cam i most of the time use old M42 (old mount standard lenses most popular with russian/soviet company ZENIT and also Pentax, Praktica, Ricoh) 1.8 28, 1.8 50, 2.0 80 and 3.8 200 and that’s all that i need… really beautifull bokeh, nice sharp lenses, and heavy robust build.

    1. Thanks DSLRy.
      You are right IMHO, the manual lenses are the best tools for DSLR cinematographers. The Soviet lenses are not the best, BUT they give you character, a thing that is lost in the modern lenses. The great advantage of DSLR´s is that you can get a wide variety of image looks thanks to these old lenses.

  4. UPDATE: a Flickr member has find information about this lens and it is dated in 1919. Sorry.

  5. Brilliant gonna look at incorporating some old lenses i have onto my 5d mk2 will post some results on my site. Thanks for the inspiration great post

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  7. Pingback: In diretta dal 1902 | Vintage lens

  8. Hi there that brilliant what you’ve done with that old lense.

    Can you post us some photos you have taken with the lense??

    Thanks keep up the ingenuity !!! (cant spell, sorry)


  9. Hi, I’m very interested in the TOLEDO lens. I can’t find one, I know it’s a Meniscus lens, but would like to know what the specs are on it (i.e. Size mm, etc.) so I can get one similar, Thank you 🙂

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